Council in North Bay is joining the health unit in calling for action on food insecurity.
Along with legislating reduction targets around food insecurity, they’re calling on the province to increase social assistance rates to reflect the costs of living, index Ontario Works rates to inflation and investigate the feasibility of a guaranteed living wage or basic income.
“Evidence continues to show that food-based programs do not reduce food insecurity because it is an income problem, much bigger than just food,” says Deputy Mayor Maggie Horsfield. “Households that struggle to pay for food also struggle to pay for the other costs of living.”
She says 2022 income scenarios from the health unit show that social assistance rates in Ontario do not reflect the cost of living.
“This contributes to existing evidence that shows social assistance recipients are at great risk of living in extreme poverty, food insecurity and developing associated health issues,” says Horsfield.
Councillor Mark King says another concern is that the net family income based on last census in the City of North Bay is actually 25% less than the average net family income in the province.
“I have no idea how we’re going to get out of this pickle. This is really quite something that has developed with runaway inflation,” he says. “I don’t know how governments are going to grapple with this, but it certainly makes it difficult for the average family.”
Most of council supported the motion.